Professional Name: Shirley MacLaine

Birth Name: Shirley MacLean Beaty

Birth Date: 24 April 1934

Birth Place: Richmond, Virginia, USA

Profession: Actress, dancer

Notable Works: The Apartment, Irma La Duce


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A dancer, singer, highly regarded actress and metaphysical time traveler, Shirley MacLaine is certainly among Hollywood's most unique stars. Born Shirley MacLane Beaty on April 24, 1934 in Richmond, Virginia, MacLaine was the daughter of drama coach and former actress Kathlyn MacLean Beaty and Ira O. Beaty, a professor of psychology and philosophy. Her younger brother, Warren Beatty, also grew up to be an important Hollywood figure as an actor/director/ producer and screenwriter. MacLaine's mother, who gave up her own dreams of stardom for her young family, greatly motivated her daughter to become an actress and dancer. MacLaine took dance lessons from age two, first performed publicly at age four, and at 16 went to New York, making her Broadway debut as a chorus girl in Me and Juliet (1953). When not scrambling for theatrical work, MacLaine worked as a model.

Interestingly, MacLaine's big break was the result of another actress's bad luck. In 1954, MacLaine was understudying Broadway actress Carol Haney The Pajama Game when Haney fractured her ankle. MacLaine replaced her and was spotted and offered a movie contract by producer Hal Wallis. With her auburn hair cut impishly short, the young actress made her film debut in Hitchock's black comedy The Trouble With Harry (1955). Later that year, she co-starred opposite Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in the comedy Artists and Models. In her next feature, Around the World in 80 Days (1956), she appeared as an Indian princess.

MacLaine earned her first Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a pathetic tart who shocks a conservative town by showing up on the arm of young war hero Frank Sinatra in Some Came Running (1959). She then got the opportunity to show off her long legs and dancing talents in Can-Can (1960). Prior to that, she appeared with Rat Packers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford in Oceans Eleven (1960). MacLaine, the only female member of the famed group, would later recount her experiences with them in her seventh book My Lucky Stars. In 1960, she won her second Oscar nomination for Billy Wilder's comedy/drama The Apartment, and a third nomination for Irma La Douce (1963). MacLaine's career was in high gear during the '60s, with her appearing in everything from dramas to madcap comedies to musicals such as What a Way to Go! (1964) and Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity! (1969). In addition to her screen work, she actively participated in Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign and served as a Democratic Convention delegate. She was similarly involved in George McGovern's 1972 campaign.

Bored by sitting around on movie sets all day awaiting her scenes, MacLaine started writing down her thoughts and was thus inspired to add writing to her list of talents. She published her first book, Don't Fall Off the Mountain in 1970. She next tried her hand at series television in 1971, starring in the comedy Shirley's World (1971-72) as a globe-trotting photographer. The role reflected her real-life reputation as a world traveler, and these experiences resulted in her second book Don't Fall Off the Mountain and the documentary The Other Half of the Sky -- A China Memoir (1975) which she scripted, produced and co-directed with Claudia Weill. MacLaine returned to Broadway in 1976 with a spectacular one-woman show A Gypsy in My Soul, and the following year entered a new phase in her career playing a middle-aged former ballerina who regrets leaving dance to live a middle-class life in The Turning Point. MacLaine was memorable starring as a lonely political wife opposite Peter Sellers' simple-minded gardener in Being There (1979), but did not again attract too much attention until she played the over-protective, eccentric widow Aurora Greenway in James L. Brooks' Terms of Endearment (1983), a role that finally won MacLaine an Academy Award. That same year, she published the candid Out on a Limb, bravely risking public ridicule by describing her experiences and theories concerning out-of-body travel and reincarnation.

MacLaine's film appearances were sporadic through the mid '80s, although she did appear in a few television specials. In 1988, she came back strong with three great roles in Madame Sousatzka (1988), Steel Magnolias (1989) and particularly Postcards from the Edge (1990), in which she played a fading star clinging to her own career while helping her daughter Meryl Streep, a drug addicted, self-destructive actress. Through the '90s, MacLaine specialized in playing rather crusty and strong-willed eccentrics, such as her title character in the 1994 comedy Guarding Tess. In 1997, MacLaine stole scenes as a wise grande dame who helps pregnant, homeless Ricki Lake in Mrs. Winterbourne, and the same year revived Aurora Greenway in The Evening Star, the critically maligned sequel to Terms of Endearment.

For a long time, MacLaine did seminars on her books, but in the mid '90s stopped giving talks, claiming she did not want "to be anyone's guru." She does, however, continue writing and remains a popular writer.

~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide


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Ant Bully (2006) (filming) (voice)
Rumor Has It (2005) (completed)
In Her Shoes (2005) (completed) .... Ella
Bewitched (2005) .... Iris Smythson/Endora
Carolina (2003) .... Grandma Millicent Mirabeau
"Salem Witch Trials" (2002) (mini) TV Series .... Rebecca Nurse
Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay (2002) (TV) .... Mary Kay
These Old Broads (2001) (TV) .... Kate Westbourne
Bruno (2000) .... Helen
Joan of Arc (1999/I) (TV) .... Madame de Beaurevoir
"Stories from My Childhood" (1998) TV Series (voice)
A Smile Like Yours (1997) (uncredited) .... Martha
The Evening Star (1996) .... Aurora Greenway
Mrs. Winterbourne (1996) .... Grace Winterbourne
The West Side Waltz (1995) (TV) .... Margaret Mary Elderdice
Guarding Tess (1994) .... Tess Carlisle
Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993) .... Helen Cooney
Used People (1992) .... Pearl Berman
Postcards from the Edge (1990) .... Doris Mann
Waiting for the Light (1990) .... Aunt Zena
Steel Magnolias (1989) .... Ouiser Boudreaux
Madame Sousatzka (1988) .... Madame Sousatzka
Cannonball Run II (1984) .... Veronica
Terms of Endearment (1983) .... Aurora Greenway
A Change of Seasons (1980) .... Karyn Evans
Loving Couples (1980) .... Evelyn
Being There (1979) .... Eve Rand
The Turning Point (1977) .... Deedee Rodgers
The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972) .... Norah Benson
"Shirley's World" (1971) TV Series .... Shirley Logan
Desperate Characters (1971) .... Sophie Bentwood
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) .... Sara
Sweet Charity (1969) .... Charity Hope Valentine
The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (1968) .... Harriet Blossom
Woman Times Seven (1967) .... Paulette/Maria Teresa/Linda/Edith/Eve Minou/Marie/Jeanne
Gambit (1966) .... Nicole Chang
John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1965) .... Jenny Ericson
The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964) .... Mae Jenkins
What a Way to Go! (1964) .... Louisa May Foster
Irma la Douce (1963) .... Irma La Douce
Two for the Seesaw (1962) .... Gittel Mosca
My Geisha (1962) .... Lucy Dell/Yoko Mori
The Children's Hour (1961) .... Martha Dobie
Two Loves (1961) .... Anna Vorontosov
All in a Night's Work (1961) .... Katie Robbins
Ocean's Eleven (1960) (uncredited) .... Tipsy girl
The Apartment (1960) .... Fran Kubelik
Can-Can (1960) .... Simone Pistache
Career (1959) .... Sharon Kensington
Ask Any Girl (1959) .... Meg Wheeler
Some Came Running (1958) .... Ginny Moorhead
The Sid Caesar Show (1958) (TV)
Hot Spell (1958) .... Virginia Duval
The Matchmaker (1958) .... Irene Molloy
The Sheepman (1958) .... Dell Payton
Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) .... Princess Aouda
Artists and Models (1955) .... Bessie Sparrowbrush
The Trouble with Harry (1955) .... Jennifer Rogers


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-Married to Steve Parker (17 September 1954 - 1982) (divorced) 1 child

-Her trademark theme song, taken from the movie, Sweet Charity (1969), is "If My Friends Could See Me Now". It is usually the music that accompanies her when she makes entrances on talk shows.

-Named after Shirley Temple.

-Led a series of weekend-long "Higher Self Seminars" in the late '80s teaching people about her views on many aspects of New Age practices and techniques.

-Attended Washington-Lee H.S. in Arlington, VA.

-Sister of Warren Beatty.

-Mother of Sachi Parker.

-Took ballet as a child and always played the boys' role due to being the tallest in her class.

-Right before a performance of Cinderella with the Washington School of Ballet (she was dancing the role of the Fairy Godmother), she was warming up backstage when she broke her ankle. Instead of bowing out, she simply tied the ribbon on her toe shoes tighter and danced the role through. After the show was over, she called for an ambulance.

-Was close friends with the members of the Rat Pack. She starred with all of them in Ocean's Eleven (1960). Other works with Rat Pack members include: Some Came Running (1958), Cannonball Run II (1984) and Can-Can (1960).